On a Saturday night last August, Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, announced his retirement from professional football stating, “For the last four years or so, I’ve been in this cycle of injury, pain, rehab — injury, pain rehab. I’ve been stuck in this process. The only way I see out is to no longer play football. I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live.”
Always a player the NFL and fans could be proud of on and off the field, Luck set the standard for dedication, teamwork, and humble character. He excelled and exceeded expectations while remaining a devoted husband, father, son, brother, and friend. Even when the physical strain and punishment to his body began to take hold, he persevered with the same determination and strength of character that led him to the NFL in the first place.
Eventually, even though his love for the game never wavered, his mental and physical well-being simply wasn’t worth the tradeoff of what had become the hamster wheel of trying to hang on when his heart, mind, and body knew it was time to close this chapter and dare to imagine a new one. An enormous decision when it has been estimated he is walking away from roughly $250 million in potential future earnings.
Such courage and resolve in the midst of trepidation was most certainly reason for encouragement and applause from those who had espoused to be so enamored of the outstanding young athlete. However, support and cheers were not the first reactions that Andrew Luck was met with after his announcement. Boos and jeers rose to the skies from his so-called fans at Lucas Oil stadium.
At times we can all feel like we are in a negative cycle. Sometimes it’s just a temporary situation. We stretch and grow and learn valuable lessons. But sometimes the voice deep inside tells us it’s time for a new chapter. So what’s the lesson for the rest of us? Here are three important things we can learn.
1. To live the life we truly want there comes a time when we HAVE to make a change. When the process of our life at work doesn’t bring us fulfillment, we owe it to ourselves to evaluate the status of our situation and perhaps face some hard truths about ourselves. Has the game changed? Have our goals evolved? Have we stopped listening to our authentic self and let others choose for us? Are we too comfortable with “settling” for just good enough? In the extreme, have we compromised our core principles along the way? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, take heart. It’s actually good news. It is the first step in realizing you can begin a new chapter. No book you have ever read is complete in only one chapter. Your life is the best book you will ever read – because you get to write every chapter. If you took out a blank piece of paper right now with pen in hand to write the title of your next chapter and it could be anything, what words would appear on the page in front of you? (Go ahead. Take out your pen and give it a try.) What is your authentic self whispering to you?
2. Set your plan in motion with meaningful support and direction. Set yourself up for success by using your talent and abilities in your next chapter. Move forward in the direction your heart and mind are leading by jotting down the necessary steps to transition from your current chapter to the next. Be realistic with time frames. What resources are needed and who can you share your plan with for feedback and accountability? Share your aspirations with a trusted family member or friend. Research answers to questions. Seek guidance from a coach. Educating yourself on important factors you need to know will instill confidence as you embark on your adventure of living a more authentic and purposeful life aligned with your values.
3. Surround yourself with a core group of real fans. Just like the “fan” that pulled off his LUCK jersey for the cameras along with those that booed his decision to change course, you may also have nay-sayers. Who they are may surprise and hurt you. Don’t lose your resolve. People who do not have the courage to step up in their own life are often threatened when others around them decide to make a positive change. Your authentic voice is the only one that matters supported by a small strong core group who has your happiness and success as their genuine interest. These are the folks you can rely on to help you think through your goals for your next chapter as you navigate the journey and celebrate what victory looks like for you.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters to what lies within us.” Andrew Luck carefully considered what he would be walking away from, he knew who in his circle would stand by him, even in the face of criticism he may not have anticipated, and he thoughtfully prepared and dared to dream there could be a next chapter in the story of his life. One that will propel him toward the life he wants to live – pain-free and with more joy that is true to what lies within his soul. Are you ready for less pain and more joy? If you don’t move toward living the life you want to live now- then when? It’s time for the next chapter. Start writing it.
MaryAnn Gramig is the CEO of AuthenticA Coaching & Consulting and is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach; Leadership Development Consultant, and speaker. You can learn more about leading and living strong with authenticity at www.authenticacoaching.com.